DEFENSE lawyer tells rape victim she should have ‘closed her legs’ to prevent being attacked by bouncer who assaulted her in New Zealand
- Keith Jefferies made the remarks during summing up of case in Wellington
- His client George Pule was convicted of raping a 20-year-old woman
- Wellington Rape Crisis Center has described the remarks as ‘horrific’
By STEVE NOLAN
A lawyer defending a bouncer who was convicted of raping a 20-year-old woman told his client’s victim that she should have ‘closed her legs’ to avoid being attacked.
Defense lawyer Keith Jefferies made the remarks when summing up at the trial of his client at Wellington District Court on Wednesday, the Dominion Post reported.
The newspaper said the 20-year-old woman was drunk in the central business district when the bouncer, George Pule, approached her and told her that he could get her into a nightclub where her friends were socializing.
Instead he led her down an alley and raped her, although Jefferies said the victim did not struggle or cry out.
According to the newspaper he told the court: ‘All she would have had to do was to close her legs? it’s as simple as that.’
‘Why didn’t she do that? The reason she didn’t do that was because the sex was consensual, as easy as that.’
But his comments have sparked outrage among victims rights groups.
Natalie Gousmett from the Wellington Rape Crisis Center described the remarks as ‘horrific’ and an attempt to shift the blame for sexual assault onto the victim.
She said the case, and the so-called ‘Roastbusters’ controversy — which involved a group of Auckland youths boasting online about having group sex with underage girls — had thrown a spotlight on attitudes to sexual assault in New Zealand.
‘It is an example of victim-blaming comments and rape culture, which we’ve seen all too much in the last week and a half,’ she said.
‘It’s very offensive obviously, and harmful for the victim and her family.’
Jefferies admitted making the comments but said they came while defending his client and did not reflect his personal views.
He told a New Zealand radio station that he was quoted out of context and that for anyone to fully understand what he meant they would have had to have attended the entire trial, which involved complex issues of consent.
He said: ‘If there had been anything unduly wrong with what I said I would’ve been reprimanded by the judge and also the crown lawyer would have complained.’
‘It was relative to the facts of this particular case.’
The Dominion Post said prosecutor Geraldine Kelly told the court that the victim, who was not identified, did not fight back because she was petrified of her attacker.
She said: ‘No, she didn’t fight back, she didn’t scream her head off, she didn’t go running into the street screaming? Rape!’
‘But this isn’t an American TV show, this is real life. She was scared, and she didn’t want to make the situation worse.’
Pule is awaiting sentencing on the rape conviction.